As much as we love our local breweries, we have to give props to Gordon Biersch, a chain establishment that opened at the Walden Galleria in 2011, well before the brewery craze fully hit the area.
The large restaurant has a nice open and industrial feel with lots of televisions tuned to sports. Guests can see the beer-making process and Derek Ordway is listed on the “Today’s Fresh Beer Lineup” menu as the on-site brewmaster.
Like most chains, Gordon Biersch is ahead of the curve by making the bar the center of the action. In relation to the dining space, the bar occupies a huge area, along with a separate menu that recognizes the bar is where people want to be.
GB offers really good beers from an extensive list that’s helpfully divided into categories from light and refreshing to dark. There are guest beer selections and ciders. Flights of six are available for the undecided.
Although based in California, Gordon Biersch follows a German style of pouring with .25 liters (11.5 ounces), .4 liters (16 ounces), .5 liters (21.5 ounces) and 1-liter (a whopping 44 ounces). Belgian-style beers come in 13- or 16-ounce “tulip” glasses. (The Belgian Tripel is excluded from happy hour pricing.)
As one can imagine, a chain must appeal to the masses, so GB’s cocktail menu is just as impressive with “Classic & Bold” choices like a Negroni to a “Tart & Herbacious” section with deliciously deadly drinks such as the Maestro Dobel Margarita made with MD Silver Tequila and Cointreau. Normally $10.60, it’s a happy hour bargain at $5. Seasonally inspired cocktails like the Grapefruit Citrus Collins also make an appearance.
A nice selection of wines can be ordered by the glass, bottle and carafe with a focus on American wines with some Italian, New Zealand and one from France.
Capitalizing on the growing trend of eating at the bar, GB’s bar menu features bar-friendly food choices that lets folks mix and match three for $10. There’s a fish taco along with five types of sliders — bratwurst, chicken and prosciutto, beef, barbecue chicken and French dip (perhaps to go with that French wine?).
Served on a darling board, add a side of garlic fries to the sliders for an extra $4 and call it dinner. Pizzas run from $10 to $14 and “Small Plates & Starters” hit three price points at $4, $6 and $10.
Available during happy hour (and only in the bar area) are “Snack & Share” discounts on specific items. Beer-infused mussels are $5 instead of $6; southwest egg rolls ($7) and GB wings ($9) are knocked down from $10.
We like that GB offers a regular weekday happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., and a late-night version (Sunday through Thursday starting at 10 p.m.) for night owls and shoppers who leave the mall at closing. It gives everyone a chance to take part in what truly is a solid happy hour experience.
Where: Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga (683-0050)
Hours: 11 a.m. until midnight Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Happy Hour: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with $3 16-ounce select Gordon Biersch beers, $5 handcrafted cocktails, $6 select wines. Late-night happy hour is 10 p.m. to close Sunday through Thursday with the same specials.
Yum: Beer-infused mussels with pretzel crostini
Beer Events: Visit website for beer releases and more.
Cinderella’s Glass Boot? The tradition of drinking beer from a boot is explained by the glass boot display at the entrance.